Sunday, September 06, 2009


I was out in the pasture late this morning working on the fence, when out of the corner of my eye I saw two birds moving FAST through the sky. A white pigeon, dodging and diving... and some sort of raptor, tapered wings swept back, diving downward....

OMG. I dropped everything. I have never seen a falcon stoop before in real life, and it was freaking awesome. What I saw must have been the tail end of it. The pigeon flew into some trees, then out again over the neighbor's field (not next door, a few properties away), then ducked into trees again and the falcon rose back into the air.

And immediately I was doubting everything I saw. Must be something else. Really, a falcon? Bird nerd red alert! I went through the checklist in my head. Body shape, check. Size, check. Behavior, check check check!!! And definitely NOT any of the other raptors around here. It was so far off, and I could barely get a sense of markings or coloration. I assumed it was a Prairie Falcon, simply based on having seen one of them before (not here, but near here). But it was so far away, and so high up... It looked fairly uniformly colored underneath, fairly dark. Not the dark axillaries and otherwise fairly pale body you'd see on a Prairie Falcon.

Hmmm. I came in and looked up some photos, and I think I can say that with some certainty that it was NOT a Prairie Falcon, but was indeed a Peregrine Falcon. Wow. That's awesome.

And obviously I need to carry my 7 pounds of big camera with my everywhere, all the time. ;-)

Fence update:
2856 feet to be hot wired
1976 feet currently hot (that's two pastures totally done!)


Jan Blawat said...

Oh boy, now I have to watch out for a professional pigeon eater too? I guess I'll just keep the remaining baby pigeon in the pen for another month or two. Maybe the hawks and falcons will have moved on by then. Did the Peregrine have leg bands? Did it look like a juvenile, or an adult? Not that I woud have been able to tell any of that, but I expect you might.

Katherine Plumer said...

Don't know, it was WAY too far off to be able to tell. I assume it was not somebody out doing falconry because I imagine they would have been a pit peeved when the bird soared off into the sky, up up and away until I couldn't see it anymore.

Unknown said...

Wow!! That's amazing! And I wouldn't doubt that it was a Peregrine, they've been showing up all over California more and more, to the point that the state removed them from the endangered species list just the other day.

That is one lucky pigeon!